You don’t have to be Latino to enjoy National Hispanic Heritage Month. But it sure helps to have a taste for tango, an ear for bachata music, and a passion for authentic imported goods you generally have to travel to Queens or abroad to find.
Those are just a few of the joys involved in saluting the history, culture and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The celebration began Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15.
This year, education as well as entertainment are both objectives for members of an ethnic group that has been much in the news.
“I hope this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month is also a reminder of the many sacrifices Latinos have made for the U.S. in the military, civil service and the positive impacts they have made in their communities,” says Alex Nuñez, a board member of the Greater Westbury Council for the Arts, which hosts a celebration Sept. 25.
“Hispanics are a mosaic of nationalities and cultures, and Hispanic Heritage Month reminds us Latinos of our common language, our tastes in food, music and art.” Nuñez says. The Westbury event is “an inclusive celebration of Latino culture . . . to enjoy whether you are Latino or not.”
ARTS ON DISPLAY
“Our heritage is with us all the time, but this is an opportunity to share it,” says Tatiana Grez of Central Islip, a musician, writer, painter and immigrant from Santiago, Chile. Grez says she shares her native land’s traditions by making handmade jewelry with copper and semiprecious stones such as onyx and lapis lazuli. The jewelry is sold at the Yerbabruja Arts Center in Central Islip.
Authentic goods are also a specialty at TUMI, The Peruvian Store in Port Jefferson. The store sells clothing, silver jewelry and other goods imported from Peru, the homeland of store co-owner Maria Caballero of Centereach.
At another store with south-of-the-border connections, you can find the ingredients for a Mexican-style fiesta. Dulcemania, a Westbury sweet shop opened six months ago by Gabriela and Jose Monsurez of Glen Cove, sells piñatas and imported candies, handmade margarita glasses, ceramic hot chocolate cups and stone molcajetes — the mortar and pestle sets essential for making guacamole.
“Each piece has a significance in my culture,” Gabriela says. “For instance, the crafts made of clay are typical of my home state of Guerrero.”
Upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month-themed events:
Tito Batista and The Black Rose Orchestra
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 at Bay Street Theater, Sag Harbor
INFO $30-$40, 631-725-9500, baystreet.org
A Vegas-style big band orchestra plays Latin and pop favorites.
Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration
WHEN | WHERE Noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, in the parking lot of St. Brigid/Our Lady of Hope Regional School, 101 Maple Ave., Westbury
INFO Free admission, westburyarts.org
The Village of Westbury Latino Advisory Committee hosts an afternoon of music and dance performances by local arts organizations.
Latin Music Program
WHEN | WHERE 2 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Long Island Museum, Stony Brook
INFO $10 ($5 ages 6-17), 631-751-0066, longislandmuseum.org
Dance and sing along to traditional flute music performed by Sicanni Purizaca of Greenport.
‘Cuban Nights’ Havana Cuba All-Stars
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Oct. 8 at Staller Center, Stony Brook University
INFO $38, 631-632-2787, stallercenter.com
An all-acoustic concert.
Sol y Sombra
WHEN | WHERE 2 p.m. Oct. 9 at Brentwood Library auditorium, 34 Second Ave., Brentwood (631-273-7883) and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at Congregationalist Church, 95 E. Main St., Patchogue
INFO Free admission
Argentine tango, flamenco and other Latin dance and music numbers in homage to Cuba.
Americas Poetry Festival of NY
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 13 at Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site, Huntington Station
INFO Free admission, 631-427-5240, nysparks.com/historic-sites/19/details.aspx
More than 20 poets from South America and Spain read in Spanish and other native languages with an English translation.
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Oct. 14 at Tilles Center, LIU Post, Brookville
INFO $43-$73, 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org
The Cuban diva and artistic ambassador from the Buena Vista Social Club performs standards such as “Besame Mucho.”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Oct. 15 at Van Nostrand Theatre at Suffolk County Community College, Brentwood
INFO $15 ($10 younger than 17), 631-851-6589, sunysuffolk.edu
A telenovela (Spanish language soap opera)-style drama set in heaven features nightclub stars singing with a live orchestra.